command to the vicinity of Arkadelphia
, thirty-five miles away, to get forage for the horses, and left the way open for Steele
to throw his pontoons across the river and get at least a day's start in the race for Little Rock
or Pine Bluff
On the 25th—the day after the capture of his train at Marks' Mill
—Steele evacuated Camden
When it was known that he had left, the infantry, which was camped eleven miles back, was hurried to the front and occupied the town, but it was found that the pontoons were a day's march in the rear, and the river could not be crossed without them.
In the meantime Marmaduke
was ordered to cross the river with his brigade and get in Steele
's front at Princeton
To cross the river he had to go down it to Whitehall
, fifteen miles, and ferry his men and swim his horses over, and he reached Princeton
just as Steele
was leaving on the road to Little Rock
He took up the pursuit at once, and there was sharp fighting at times between his advance and Steele
's rear guard.
About noon it began to rain heavily, and in a little while the arms, accouterments and clothing of the men were drenched, and the roads became almost impassable.
Just before night Saline river
was reached and the enemy disappeared in the gloom of its heavily wooded bottom.
The cavalry felt of their lines and finding that they were too strong and firm to be successfully attacked, withdrew to the bluff, a mile and a half in the rear, and bivouacked under the trees for the night, without food or covering.
The rain fell all night without ceasing, and through it all the infantry toiled onward to reach the front.
Before daylight the head of the column appeared; the men wet, bedraggled, hungry and tired.
to locate the enemy, which he did, finding them in force in the positions they occupied the evening before.
Two regiments of his brigade, dismounted, were deployed as skirmishers, and held their ground and